Blog Post: To My Parents on a Bittersweet Father’s Day.
Updated: May 30
Tomorrow is Father's Day.
A tough day for so many who have lost their Dad.
But also a tough day for so many Fathers who have lost their children.
As a surviving Jewish child, who lost most of his family at the hands of the Nazis, Dad was born in a "relocation camp" in Germany shortly after World War II ended.
He spent some time shuffling between the US and Australia as a kid (as refugees you needed sponsors to move anywhere after fleeing persecution). Eventually landing in the us in the US for good at age 12.
Fast forward, he became best friends with My Uncle Richie, and spent countless hours hanging out on my Grandparents "stoop", in the Bronx (which apparently is what kids in the Bronx did back then).
Eventually the "stoop sitting" led to a crush and clandestine romance between my mom (a 26 year old blonde bombshell divorcee with a 3 year old son) and a 19 year stoop sitter and best friend of My Uncle. Her pick up line was something to the effect of, "I have a car". She was the original Cougar.
My Grandparents presumably not knowing of their romance (or maybe secretly knowing, which I believe to be true) would often say to my mom "If only you could meet a guy like Richies's friend Ira".
Soon after the secret courtship, my brother Jeff (technically half brother but always brother) started asking my mom and her male friends for a sibling.
Jeff (to my not-yet dad): "Do you love my mom?"
My future Dad: "I like her"
Jeff: "Do you like her enough to marry her?"
My future Dad: "No"
Jeff (turning to their mutual friend Robert): "How about you?"
Robert declined. (Thank you Robert, wherever you are.)
Jeff (to my mom): "By the time you have your own baby I will be old enough to have my own".
Again in movie time, cut to my parents secretly eloping 3 years later. (The elopement necessary as my fathers parents were not a fan of the blonde hussy).
They broke the news to my brother and he joyfully squeed "Congratulations!"
Cut to 20 months later: I enter the picture,
The family was complete.
My father was Jeff's father pretty much from the inception of Mom and Dad's secret romance,
Although my dad wanted to from day 1, due to resistance from Jeff's birth Father the official adoption did not take place until 1999 when Jeff was 36 years old.
Legalities aside, make no mistake, Dad from day 1 was always our father.
He instilled in us so many things, among them an incomparable work ethic, a sense of loyalty, the sense that blood has less to do with genetics and everything to do with love, and a crazy (often inappropriate) sense of humor.
As an immigrant, and so many of his age, his dream was to provide to us a sense of financial and familial stability that he had been denied.
To this day, he doesn't realize that he surpassed his own expectations.
Every parents dream is to see their children succeed thrive, excel, love and be an inspiration.
Both my Mom and Dad did this well.
Before Jeff died unexpectedly in 2020, we often spoke about how lucky and thankful we were to have them both as our parents.
Although perhaps mis-matched on paper, Mom and Dad gave us a perfect balance of work ethic, loyalty, creativity, love, fairness, humility and humanity. One that Jeff has instilled in his own children.
Oddly, (or not) in the weeks before his passing, Jeff sent my parents an e-mail outlining the amazing life lessons that he had learned from each of them.
Although life rarely plays out the way we wish, this is a love letter to both of my parents, from Jeff and myself thanking them for a debt that can never be fully expressed.
We love you Mom and Dad and are eternally grateful.
You guys did good. We love you always and forever.